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State of the Union With John King

News/Business. John King. Interviews and analysis.

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Us 13, Afghanistan 10, Pakistan 8, United States 6, Mccain 6, Yemen 6, John Mccain 5, Washington 5, America 5, Wyoming 4, Iraq 4, Lieberman 4, Jackson 3, U.s. 3, Virginia 3, Joe Lieberman 3, Obama 3, Harry Reid 3, Douglas 2, Arkansas 2,
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  CNN    State of the Union With John King    News/Business. John King.  
   Interviews and analysis.  

    January 10, 2010
    12:00 - 1:00pm EST  

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everybody there and everybody across the country who shared time with us and spent some time with us. i'm john king and this is "state of the union." president obama takes responsibility for a national security breakdown. >> ultimately, the buck stops with me. >> is the administration taking the right steps to fix things and keep americans safe? in an exclusive interview, two leading senators who are visiting key fronts in the war against al qaeda. john mccain and the chairman of the homeland security committee, independent joe lieberman. new year brings fresh pain to americans seeking work. when will the jobs come back? i'll ask one of the president's top economic advisors, christina romans. we complete our 50-state tour with this week's american dispatch. the grand teton mountains of wyoming and hope this year means more visitors in an economic
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rebound. 20 years ago, virginiaens made him the first and doug wilder gets the last word. this is "state hof the union" report for sunday january 10th. we begin this sunday with two key senators and two paramount questions. is al qaeda stronger and smarter than we have been led to believe? our recent intelligence failures and security lapses isolated incidents or proof of serious shortcomings that leave us vulnerable to terror attack. the christmas day attempt to blow up a northwest airways flight. as the president promises to improve airport security and information sharing among intelligence agencieses, let's get an assessment now of the threat and the administration's response from two senators spending this congressional
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recess traveling to the front lines in the fight against al qaeda and extremist. in kuwait, pakistan, afghanistan and lebanon, senator john mccain of arizona and joseph lieberman of connecticut join us this sunday from their latest stop in israel. gentlemen, thank you for joining us this morning. perfect time based on your trip to have this conversation. i want to go through your many stops on this trip. i want to start first with the biggest question the american people are asking themselves after these recent attacks. have we underestimated al qaeda threat? first to you, senator mccain, we were told dating back to the bush administration they were scattered and leadership on the run and not capable of mounting a big, sustained attack. did we misunderestimate and have they regrouped and have they learned what we're doing to find new ways to attack us? >> john, that requires a long answer and i'll try to make it
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short. i think america is safer since 9/11, but we're certainly not safe. we have a long way to go, but i think we've made significant progress. i think that we've shown that al qaeda can land most anywhere. where there's fertile ground, they're going to breed. now, the latest, of course, is yemen, where there certainly is a significant challenge. al qaeda continues to inhibit areas along the afghan/pakistan border which, again, argues for success in afghanistan. but, i think that we have to continue our emphasis and our focus on the fact that this challenge is not going away any time soon. >> senator lieberman, to that point, you're the chairman of the homeland security committee, as calla adapts its tactics, have the united states kept up? are we ahead of them, if you will, not only improving airport security but looking overseas and our intelligence gathering, are we still ahead of the game?
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>> we're ahead of the game, but this is a war and there are times when i think because it is such an unconventional war that people in our country may forget it. it's a war with many battlefields. we're on the verge of really an extraordinary turn around and success in iraq. president obama is committed to win the war in afghanistan and i think we've got an extraordinary team there that john and i visited a few days ago and we will succeed in afghanistan, we've chased some of the al qaeda enemy to yemen but the fact is that in the last year there have been more than a dozen known attempted terrorist attacks on the homeland of the united states. three of them broke through our defenses. two of them successfully killing people, one in arkansas earlier this year where a u.s. army recruiter was killed at his recruiting station simply because he was wearing the
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uniform of the u.s. army and second, of course, the murder at ft. hood. the third break through was only by act of god, not a disaster and that's abdulmutallab, the detroit bomber. so, in any war, when the enemy breaks through your lines, you've got to regroup and you've got to strengthen your defenses because the truth is in this war we cannot set any goal less than 100% success. that means we have to close the gaps. i think some people have to be held accountable for the mistakes, the human errors that the president acknowledged that were made that enabled that nigerian terrorist to get on that plane to detroit. and we've got to change some things in the system, better screening, tougher watch list. >> if someone should be held accountable, who? >> well, i think the investigation will show that, but the point is that it seems to be clear that beginning with the department of state when the
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father came in our embassy in nigeria, not only should that name thhave been sent to the national counterterrorism center but somebody should have immediately pulled that terrorist visa so he never got on that plane second at the national counterterrorism center, that's the place we created after 9/11 and it served us very well and it did not, in this case. so, if human errors were made, i think some of the humans who made those errors have to be disciplined so that they never happen again. >> you both, i know you have been traveling, the president stepped forward this week and said the buck stops with me, i'm responsible. if you're mad, i'm the president of the united states. the ultimate responsibility lies with me. let's listen briefly to the president. >> we are at war. we are at war against al qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence that atakd us on 9/11 that killed 3,000 innocent
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people and that is plotting to strike us again. >> at time s both of the senatos critical of the administration's approach saying it is a bit too soft and relies on the federal court system as opposed to military justice systems. he changed some things from the bush administration some of which you support and some of which you don't support. when you hear the president say that, many critics say he doesn't view this as a war. when you hear him say that, do you see just a new tone or policy shifts that make you feel better? >> well, i appreciate the president's comments and i think they're important. they are a departure from his language before. second of all, people should be held responsibility for what happened and we can't go back the old washington kind of routine, we're all responsible, so, therefore, no one is responsible. someone has to be held responsible. second of all, i don't think the president's action matched his rhetoric when we sent this
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individual to a civilian court. that person should be tried, he's an enemy combatant and he's a terrorist and if we're at war, then we certainly shouldn't be trying that individual in a court other than a military trial and to have a person be able to get lawyered up when we need that information very badly, i think, betrays or contradicts the president's view that we're at war. >> give us an assessment of your travels. there were some tensions, you promised close relations between the united states and pakistan but there are some tensions. too much attached to u.s. aid money and going over al qaeda and taliban targets. is your sense, senator lieberman, to you first, is pakistan a full partner now or are they still picking and choosing when to fight which targets to hit. >> pakistan is a full partner in the war on terrorism and i think
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john and i both felt that we've seen a really significant change in pakistan on this visit. i think they've clearly understood that they, the pakistani people are the targets of terrorism. they've suffered terribly, including for instance, attacks at mosques. i think they're also beginning to understand that there is not a clear separation between the taliban fighting in afghanistan and the taliban fighting in afghanistan. there's an overlap and they are good partners and i would say particularly, we met with the chief of the army. the pakistani army is on the move and it pushed the taliban out of the s.w.a.t area. it's pretty much cleared south war zeerstone and i think there's a possibility we'll see movement in north warzierastan. i think fundamentally pakistan is our ally today in the war on
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terrorism and a very critical ally and it's based on the understanding that we have a common enemy. we also have common values, democracy. but we have a common enemy and together we're going to beat it. >> senator mccain, let me get your assessment of the stop in afghanistan. something in the context of what you said when you were with us three month ago. listen to this. >> corruption in the government is a huge problem and we have to have, that's part of this equation and we have to have the karzai government show us that we, that it is going to truly reform. >> well, let's start with the karzai government. senator mccain, while you were there, president karzai is trying another time to get his cabinet approved. if he cannot even get a cabinet approved and he does not have the faith of other people in their government that they're not corrupt. if we can't get to that simple first step, how can we build institutions and how can we
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repair roads and put people to work and educate them in afghanistan and build the confidence of the afghan people that trust your central government, not the taliban? >> well, they have a long way to go in the area of corruption, but the fact that the parliament rejected his nominees, i think you can look at a democratic process moving forward. i believe that president karzai recognizes that what he's just been through was an important lesson to him. we have to keep pressing on the corruption issue. but let me tell you two other things that concern me, first of all, i think we have the right strategy and the right resources and the right leadership. we went outside kandahar to an operating base where americans and afghan soldiers are operating together. two things concern me. one is that the statement the president made about leaving by mid-2011 is reverberated throughout the region and bread uncertainty. i wish that he would reassure our allies and friends that we are there to win.
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the second, of course, i don't think there are plans to build the afghan army to the size that's necessary to take over the responsibilities that we will have to hand over to them. is the karzai government effective yet? i think they have a long way to go, but i know the afghan people do not want the taliban back and he has that advantage, but this is going to be a tough, long, slog but i'm confident now that we'll have the recipe for success. >> when we come back, we'll ask them just fresh from iraq, is the united states on track to get combat troops out by the august deadline? we'll bring them home for a couple quick questions for politics here on the home front. stay with us. uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
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we're back with senators john mccain and joe lieberman both joining us from jerusalem. you were both recently in iraq as part of this trip. you know the timetable to get the combat troops out by 2010, senator mccain, are we on track to meet that deadline and do you have any concerns that it is a political push and is it in sync with conditions on the ground, is a better way to put it? >> no, i'm very satisfied. i wish every american knew that the month of december was the first month without a single american killed, which is the best indicator of success that we could ever have. and our troops are still working hard, but the environment is dramatically changed and we have won there. now, the iraqi government will take two steps forward and one step back. it's a messy business, democracy, and we will see problems and challenges and continued attacks, but the ability of al qaeda or the
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extremists to have a sustained campaign of attacks in iraq is not there any more. general odierno after the elections which now hopefully will be in march, that we will be able to draw down rapidly. i'm very pleased with the success there and still tough, but they have succeeded. >> as you know, george mitchell, you're from a colleague in the senate from the president's envoy to the region. he said if he could get the israelis and palestinians back to the bargaining table, he says if he could get them there, he thinks you could do this in two years. either reason that either one of you share that optimism. if you can get them in a room, they could get this done in a year or two? >> i do. i do. and i think that there is a heightened understanding that with other tensions in the region and i just mentioned iran and i mentioned other situations such as better and when i say better, more efebtive capability
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of hezbollah and southern lebanon and other threats and there's a certain urgency to the peace process and i believe that not only is it possible, but i think it's very likely that you could see some progress in this area. >> you've both talked about some progress and some optimism in afghanistan, at least on the military side, some progress and optimism that pakistan is being a better partner there. what about the question of yemen in the context, i want you to listen to remarks for defense. he said in "washington post" on thursday, it will strengthen al qaeda. we cannot accept any foreign troops on yemeni territory. what must the president and what must the united states do when it comes to the al qaeda and terrorist challenge in yemen? >> well, of course, this has to be done in coordination with the military and government and, look, it's important to say that
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president obama has authorized significant increase in american support for the yemeni military against al qaeda there and you just got to look at the three cases in which our homeland defenses were broken through this year. arkansas, ft. hood and the detroit bomber. they all three of those have a connection to al qaeda on the aribbian peninsula. and we have a responsibility that the commander in chief, president obama, has carried forward. to develop a sanctuary and a safe haven there in yemen and i think we're doing that very effectively. >> i want to bring you home, gentlemen. it's an election year here in the united states and senator lieberman is in connecticut and christopher dodd announced he will not seek re-election and byron dorgan doesn't like the way the senate is and he's not
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going to seek re-election and there's a gentleman on the screen right now who is on the ballot this year and some questioned after running for president john mccain might say, you know, it's time to pack it in, but this week senator mccain launched some new ads. i want you to listen to this. >> president obama is leading an extreme left wing crusade to bankrupt america. i stand in his way every day. >> senator lieberman, you two are close friends and you stood by your republican friend during the 2008 presidential campaign. do you agree with that ad? is president obama leading a campaign to bankrupt america? >> you know, every now and then john mccain and i disagree and that's one of the cases. so, i don't, i don't agree with that. i think that the president understands the importance of bringing our government back into balance. he came in at the most difficult economic time inheriting a national debt that had doubled in the proceeding eight years and i think you're going to hear
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from the president in a state of the union maybe earlier about some tough medicine for our economy. we need it and i hope that there will be bipartisan support for congress in doing that. as our economy begins to grow again, we're not going to really get out of the, get to real growth until we can assure the rest of the world that we can pay our bills and right now we're just adding to our debt. >> normccain, many still consider you the leader of the republican party, the last presidential nominee, but the man chairman of the national committee has a book out and he caused quite a stir this past week. criticizing republicans, president bush, your campaign to a degree and not sure if the republicans can win and take back the senate in the 2010 elections. do you have confidence in michael steele or does he need to go? >> i have confidence in michael steele. could i mentioned what you just asked joe to comment. look, i work would the president in a number of areas in afghanistan and others, but the
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president promised he will stop the spending. we have increased the debt dramatically. nobody believed that gm and chrysler would be owned by the federal government. the spending is out of control and it's not been brought under control and that's what i'm fighting every day because we've laid a debt on our children and grandchildren that is unconscionable and the pork barrel spending and corruption and behind backroom deals without c-span cameras as he promised has gone on and that's what i'm fighting and i'll continue to fight it. >> senator joe lieberman of connecticut and senator mccain. we thank you for joining us this morning and we'll see you when you're back here in the states. thank you, both. the first big economic report of the first year was soeb toorg say the least. the national unemployment rate is 10% and the economy is still losing job. up next, we'll ask one of the economic advisors when we can expect more hiring.
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unemployment, where will it be when we end this year? >> we first do have to talk about the december jobs report was a disappointment and we know it was a setback from november where we now know we added 4,000 jobs in that, in that month. so, that certainly has, you know, something to keep in mind. i mean, what you do know is that we are continuing the pattern of moderating job loss and i'll just give you one statistic. in the first quarter of 2009, we were losing on average 691,000 jobs per month and now with these new numbers we know in the fourth quarter we were losing 69,000. that's still way too many and it's not job gains but about a tenth of when we came into office. big question is when does it turn positive? i think we've been saying by spring that i think that's a realistic estimate and i think your point of when does the unemployment rate start coming down? that is very much determined by how much we grow. the important fact is that gdp
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does not only need to grow, but it needs to grow at a normal rate like 2.5% to bring down the unemployment rate. do you see that kind of robust gdp growth. >> let's get up and go closer to the wall. you did talk about job losses and so we can take a peek. we'll use the state of michigan which has very high unemployment and here's the job losses you talked about. the beginning of the year 700,000 a month and this is progress. still bad news. americans are losing their jobs and very slight job gain in december. as you look at more stimulus money being spent in the new year, will that bring the rate down and keep the job numbers up and keep this in the positive? >> exactly what the president was talking about back in december when we had the job summit, targeted actions we can take at this point in the recovery that we think can help to jump start private sector job creations, things like incentives for small businesses to hire. right, we know we see in the temporary jobs, the temporary
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help employment numbers and firms are starting to dip their toe into hiring. >> on a temporary basis. they're not quite confident enough to give somebody a full-time job. >> that may be a situation where a small incentive makes them say, we'll hire permanently next year and maybe with some ince incentive we'll bring it forward. >> if you sound reluctant to bring a number, down to x percent by the end of the that. you have unemployment which is the orange line and underemployment which is the yellow line. because of the hard economy can only find a part-time job. when the economy starts to grow back and they come into the workforce and those who have been discouraged and just stopped looking come into the workforce and hundreds of thousands of them is it likely even if the economy grows at 3%, that the rate might still actually go up because more people start looking for jobs. >> you're absolutely right that there is a lot of uncertainty of the unemployment numbers precisely because of things like the labor force. if, as i very much expect and
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hope and we start to grow again robustly and when we start to add jobs, you're right. one of the first things that can happen people can have a sense of hope and some of those diskornlged workers can come back in. we tend to focus on things like the employment numbers and are we seeing the kind of progress we'll watch the labor force numbers and people coming back into labor force is not a bad thing. that is good for them and good, ultimately, for the economy. it is something that can push the unemployment rate up. >> i understand your caution about picking a number. any hesitation that come november, say of this year, which happens to be an election year and the number will matter that the unemployment rate will be lower than it is now. >> i don't want to make a prediction because there is so much uncertainty and what i know is that we are seeing steady progress and i absolutely expect that progress to continue through next year and i hope accelerate. >> let's have a seat and continue the conversation. i want to bring up another item on which people are feeling the
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crunch. as we've seen cold these past few weeks, energy prices also on the rise. home heating oil costs up a bit from this time last year and prices at the pump, when people are driving to work every day or driving to look for a job, up nearly a dollar a gallon. when you look at that, is that the market as you would expect or any shenanigans in energy prices right now? >> i think it's largely the market that one would expect. i think the main thing that this is getting at and i think it's good that you bring it up, there's so many ways that ordinary families are just really suffering through this recession. we tend to focus on the unemployment rates that you talked about, but there are just lots of, you know, they've seen their pensions get, pension funds get decimated by the stock market and their housing valus and they have suffered tremendously and that's always been on the forefront of the president's mind is not only do we need to rescue this economy from the immediate crisis, but to say go back, you know, over the last ten years, middle class
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families have seen their standards of living stagnate, what are the other reforms we need to do to make them grow again? >> and those middle class families who are paying higher energy prices or uncertain about the job market, not always fair, but in the next week it's what they call bank bonus season and the banks will begin giving their bonuses and the president his team and get blamed because people want to be mad at somebody. when they see behavior on wall street we will see in the next week or two, five digit, seven digits and some say eight-digit bonuses for people in the banking economy. is there a message from the obama white house to the banks as they prepare to make these big announcements? >> for haven's sakes, people, it does seem really ridiculous. you know, we have had to take extraordinary actions to rescue the financial system. we always did it because that's what had to be done for the american people, no one wanted to bail out the banks just for
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the bank's sake. we know that credit is the life blood of the american economy and without it families can't get loans to buy cars or send their kids to school and small businesses can't get loans. we know that the financial sector matters. but at the same time, right, we have had to take these extraordinary actions and you would certainly think that the financial institutions that are now doing a little bit better would have some sense and this big bonus season, of course, is going to offend the american people, it offends me. >> now as you shift towards trying to control the deficit as well as keep the economy going again, some tough choices. what to cut, what to squeeze and find new revenues. in that context. i want to remind you of a promise that the president made in the barack campaign. >> i can make a firm pledge, under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.
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not your income tax, not your pay roll tax, not your capital gains taxes and not any of your taxes. >> does that stand as we head into your obama administration and you try to make the difficult choices to start to bring the deficit under control and does that deficit still stand if you're under $250,000? >> yes and let me talk, though, about the bigger issue which is, you know, even to the degree that we, of course, care deeply about the deficit and you're right in 2010, that is going to be something that the president is focusing on and talking about. it is important to understand we're also talk about actions taken right now, targeted actions to jump start job creation and there is no conflict between those because anybody will tell you that you don't get your budget deficit under control at a 10% unemployment rate and we absolutely have to get people back to work, obviously, for their sake and also for the budget deficit. >> we thank you for your time today and we wish you luck in
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the year ahead. up next on "state of the union," a quick check of the top headlines. douglas wilder of virginia gets the last word, next. uuuuuuuuuuuu
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i'm john king and this is "state of the union." divudpetraeus says the united states might make a long-term commitment to fight in yemen. general petraeus said part of that commitment wit be financial but not ground troops. president obama is accepting harry reid's apology for making racially incensensitive comment about him during the presidential campaign. obama could win the democratic nomination, in part because of his "light skin" and he had "no negro dialect." those are your top stories here on "state of the union." 20 years ago, he made history as the first african-american elected governor. douglas wilder of virginia gets
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the last word, next.
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>> we could read that all men were created equal and they were endowed by their creator with certain alienable rights and among these were life, liberty
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and the pursuit of happiness i knew it meant me! newmakers, analysts were out on the sunday morning talk show and only one gets the last word and that honor goes to the man you heard speaking right there 20 years ago. governor wilder, thanks for joining us. >> thank you so much for having me. >> you made history on that day 20 years ago. the first african-american elected governor. we are about to hit the one-year of our first african-american elected president. harry reid is quoted in the new book saying what he acknowledges were some insensitive, racially incensensitive about then candie barack obama. he was wowed by obama's orat oratorical skills and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as obama a light skinned african-american with no negro dialect unless he wanted to have
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one, as he said privately. his race would more than help him than hurt him in his bid for election. in covering your bid 20 years ago if i leaned across the table and i said, you know, governor because of your lighter skin, you have a better chance. what would your reaction have been? >> i would have thought you were from another planet because i thought you were not aware of america's people and you were not aware of real virginians and the fair mindedness of most americans and the reid comment, as he described it and the apology should be to the totality of the american people because we are not where he thought we may have been a year ago. we crossed that threshold as you pointed, 20 years ago when we said we don't care what the color of this guy's skin is. what is my dialect, for instance. >> southern gentleman.
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so, i think the unfortunate thing, john, is that one snippet or that recent adventure by harry reid the need for more open discussion about race and put it where it belongs into the closet. obama wasn't elected because he was or was not of any color. he represented a change. he was representing a fastening of the dreams of the american people to someone who could bring about change. i would have liked to have thought that is what i could do in virginia. saddened, though, to see that 20 years later there is still that degree of apprehension on the behalf of some people who are in leadership positions. >> there are some and republican critics to see something to be gained here and the african-american chairman of the national committee says he believes that senator reid should step down from that
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leadership position. >> i don't think that. i think what reid was giving was a personal opinion which wasn't affecting the laws or the operation of the justice in our country. as you would compare that to what trent lott said. he was saying in effect, it's unfortunate that what strom thurman was warning the dream wasn't fulfilled because it eliminated some other problems. he was in a position to change or not change some of the laws that he saw as the big problem. reid was unfortunate. he had enough problems on his own. >> you should mention being more transparent and have some, the one-year mark of the obama presidency and has it had an effect on race relations in the country. if you ask the american people, is this a new era and have you seen new improvement in race relations. 69% of blacks say that and 50%
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of whites. no change or made things worse 30% of blacks say no change and 49% of whites say that. >> i think barack obama had possibly the best team you could have assembled to get him elected. the real question that is being asked in the numbers of persons around the country as i travel and talk is that team assembled to govern? to be there to address the real problems of inner city people? he made an excellent speech at the conference of mayors in which he made several commitments and i think he wants to fulfill them, but a lot of people, as you know, bottom line, are saying what difference has it made in my life. okay, so you bail the banks out and you bail the financial institutions out, how has that helped me? the mortgage industry has been left in one position and housing industry another position and how has it helped me?
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those poll numbers don't surprise me at all. >> after a republican won your state after successive democratic victories and you said it's a wake-up call for democrats across the country that the republican won and you say independents see these are the words in the news article, you tell me if they're your words, careless spending or overspending, is that fair? >> i think it's a fair statement because people are looking to see, well, okay, all of the stimulus money and you might be calling it for a new stimulus. gets back to the bottom line question in these polls. how has that helped me and john doe is asking that question. i think the majority of the people in this country forget republican or democrat, they're interested in fiscal responsibility, accountability and productivity. do they want reform? yes. but they want meaningful reform. >> has the administration passed that test at the one-year mark? >> i think it's too early to
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give a grade yet. i ask my students in class to give a grade, i don't. i think the obama administration inherited a tremendous amount of problems, not just one and every day things change. i think, i know from being governor it takes a day or two to get your sea legs and to get your feet under you. i had some degree of executive experience. obama's had none at all. so, when you consider that he's only been in office a year, has he fought the strength of developing what that office and what happen, i think he's on his way of doing it. that may not be the opportunity presented for him in the first year. >> as an african-american leader and for the success and someone who picked a few fights with the gun lobby when you were governor in the policy fight. gilbert arenas is a member of the washington wizards and i'm a fan and i'm going to the game when i'm done with the program today and he is suspended
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indefinitely for bringing guns into the locker room and what does a leader look at when he sees this situation? >> i hear it from john across the streets and through the city and the state, they are upset. they are very upset with a guy who's come as far as he has come to be as well off as he is financially, to have to resort to this. it's a great disappointment to many of them. you'd be surprised at the number of them who say we are not unhappy that he's suspended. i think it's a question of setting a right example not for the kids to live by, but setting it by how you live your life so they can call you a true role model. >> it's good to see you and i'll say as i close, 20 years ago when you ran i was 10 and you were 20. >> incidentally i'm having my birthday next sunday and i'll be
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79 years old and i'll do a book and how i think america has moved up in that period. >> i look forward to reading it and you have aged far more gracefully than the ank of this program. up next, we head out to wioming and we keep a promise, our 50th state. the recurring question of our coast-to-coast travels in recent months is this, we heard it in wyoming. is the economy finally ready to rebound. stay with us.
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from the very beginning here on "state of the union" we promised our selves and much more importantly we promised you to get out of washington as soon as we can to see first-hand on the political debates right here impacted where you live. i have learned so much and met so many remarkable, remarkable people along the way. we set out to visit all 50 years in our first year and the historical obama presidency. this weekend we make it to 50 to beautiful wyoming. known for its beautiful parks most notably yellowstone and teton and in tough economic times the tourism industry is one of the most accurate barometers. if you look in 2009 during the recession, july 4th travel was down. labor day travel down. national park visits up a bit because families can get there relatively inexpensively. up in 2009. in our american dispatch this week hit the slopes i did on the
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snowboard and we heard cautious optimism that this new year will bring bigger crowds, bigger spending and the seeds of recovery. the grand teton peak reaches nearly 14,000 feet. this above the clouds view part of jackson hole's wonder and its leading industry. beauty is big business here and wyoming a case study how a bad economy impacts travel and tourism. with family budgets tight, 2009 saw record visitations to inexpensive national parks like grand teton and yellowstone. and lots of open space on the more expensive slopes at places like the jackson hole mountain resort. >> how are you guys doing today? conditions are committee good. >> reporter: where nick has worked for two winters now.
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>> it's snowing and i love to be outside and have this be my office with the views i get and the benefits i get, it's great. all right, have a good run, sir. >> reporter: an up close look if 2010 will bring a recovery for a guy who had an all too close view for the economy's crash. >> i used to work in finance in new york city and i lost that job around february of 2008. i was in global wealth and operations and i was seeing a lot of terminations and liquidations come flowing in. people just did not trust their money in stocks any more. >> reporter: in this job, a vastly different pay scale, but also a very different perspective. >> pretty fun today, huh? >> in this world, i'm not able to save any money living paycheck to paycheck and working in new york city, it was much nicer. i was making more money, i was able to put some away and, however, my lifestyle over there
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was a lot more stressful than it is here. >> reporter: his move from wall street to the lift line is in, itself, a sign of the times. >> we didn't really grow as quickly as we'd like. >> reporter: in year's past jerry bland often had to seek temporary visas for foreign workers, but not this year. >> this fall when we had our job fair we had 500 people show up for essentially 200 jobs and the quality and the educational capability of the people who came in the door was extraordinary. >> thank you much. >> reporter: the recession hit in the middle of a $100 million improvement project include agnew tram to the highest peak, forcing bland to not only deal with fewer visitors but with the credit crunch continues to hamper businesses. >> in the midst of all that, we had to do a refinance and we're able to put it together. it was a tough negotiation and it took a long time. it's not back to where it should be and we've got to loosen the reigns a lot more. >> reporter: still, after a tough 2009, he is optimistic the
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slopes will be more crowded in the new year, but only if the travel and tourism industry heeds the recession lessens. >> they're asking for deals and getting them. >> reporter: if you didn't do that and you were stubborn and say, no, this is our profit margin and we're going to keep our profit margin, what happens? >> you'll lose volume and volume for us is key. >> reporter: snowboard run during a recent visit found only modest crowds, but christmas week business was up from last year and bookings for the last of january and february has resort officials optimistic. >> people have been conservative and holding their pocketbooks pretty close for a while and i think they're ready to jump out. >> our thanks to everyone at jackson hole and to everyone we have met across the country on our remarkable 50 state tour. we'll spend more time last sunday discussing what we've learned. in the meantime, if you're curious go to